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Facts about schizophrenia

Like living in a world of delusions

In Sweden, there are between 30,000 and 50,000 people with schizophrenia. Each year there are approximately 2,000 people in Sweden who suffer a psychosis.

  • Approximately half of them may later be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • A psychosis brings about a huge change in the perception of reality, where the person affected lives in a hallucinatory world where he or she may see, hear, and smell things that do not exist, or hear voices that are not there.
  • The person may also experience having unique properties such as being able to fly, being immortal or being Jesus; they may believe they can control others' thoughts or that their own thoughts are controlled by something or someone.
  • The patient lives in a world of delusions, from which it is not possible to escape by using reason.

To be diagnosed as schizophrenic these delusions must continue for at least six months, but there are other criteria that also have to be met.

Unclear how drugs act

The treatment of schizophrenia is mainly through anti-psychotic drugs.

Drugs that reduce the symptoms have one thing in common: they all block D2 receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's neurons. For this reason it has been concluded that schizophrenia is connected with the dopamine signalling system, but exactly how is not known.

The clinical effect is related to how hard the drug binds to these receptors, apart from clozapine (Leponex etc.) which has the best anti-psychotic effect despite weak binding. It is called atypical and its mechanism is still unknown.

Source: Book of medical products (Läkemedelsboken)